Sunday, February 28, 2010


Observations from an American friend who watched workers on their way to work in Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon

So many people walking to work, reminds me of the scene set in NY City, but even this seems like much more. The difference with the crowds in NY and the Gurgaon flood of people is that, in NY, you find people of all different classes and backgrounds hustling and bustling to different locations. In Gurgaon, everyone seems to come from the same place and they all seem to be traveling in the same direction, all to work in factories, call centers, etc. for low wages, perhaps even under bad conditions. I observed two men limping severely, so much so that they had to use their hands to pick up their leg in order to take the next step. I wonder if it was a work place accident caused by difficult conditions. Regardless of the reason, that didn’t stop them from making their daily trip. It almost seems like a religious procession, everyone seems intent and devoted to their journey. Cars, buses, street vendors and rickshaws break up this constant flow of people, yet everyone continues along without paying them much attention. I took a picture of the scene; in the picture, it is sunny out, some stop to buy food at the stands nearby while others continue to walk along, pleasantly talking to their neighbor. In the picture, you can see that there are a lot of people, but you miss the sense of energy. When I saw the crowds in person, I was overwhelmed by the force of it. I took a picture, but how do I explain what is missing? You have to witness it to understand.

Friday, February 26, 2010


(New Series No. 166, February 2002)

"My father's hip-bone broke. When we four brothers began running around for his treatment then people said, "he's an old man, you, shouldn't bother so much about him." These statements offended us. He was our father, he had brought us up, he had given us parental affection and love- if he has become old, should we forget him? It was not possible to take him on the bus, so we hired a jeep. From the village, we went to Chhapra district (a small city) then to Patna (the capital of Bihar). When our wives starting sneering about who will clean his shit, then we began cleaning him. 32,000 rupees was spent. The bone was joined and our father started walking around again."

"Us three brothers began slogging in the factories and another one stayed back in the village. In most of the factories, the factory pays 1,200 rupees a month (25 US dollars) for an 8 hour day. And if you don't work 12 hours each day, then you cannot make ends meet. Instead of paying wages monthly, they pay it every two months. That means you eat less. The money order that we sent home takes four months to reach. (Because the post office uses the money order as interest, it should only take a week but because of this can take even a year). Family members think we are having lots of fun in the job."

"My father was direly neglected. He was treated with disrespect. One day in anger father went to the field and there poured kerosene oil on his body and lit himself on fire."
Relations based on 'what I get out of it'...Instrumental, shop-keeping relations, keeping accounts of relations, market-engendered behaviors and ideas— this is white darkness...

What do we talk about?

Whether we are talking about children, the elderly or about ourselves, the language of the market creeps in the conversation. The bad situation we are in today has been engendered by the market yet often we advise those for whom we have good heartfelt wishes to make greater efforts in the swamp of the market. Holding the notion that we are doing good, we are in fact part of the tragedy of the bad doings that are now widespread...In the name of making a future for the children, things that feed the present system, take place in every home. The sharp knife of the market is deep down even in us victims. To overcome this poison in us is as important as dealing with or overcoming the market outside. Without creating yardsticks of success in life which are antagonistic to success in the market, the market can not be overcome.

The 'value' of human beings

It has become very common to say that there is no value of human beings today. On the other hand, while introducing a person, it is common to stress his price/market value. This is an expression of human beings becoming a commodity in the market. And this is a result of us all becoming so cheap that the glorification of a person's specialities is establishing new scales of vulgarity and uncouthness.

In fact, in hierarchic social systems, in place of the reality, the image dominates. For image, instead of the normal, the extreme is necessary. Instead of the routine, event is necessary. The stories of slave-owner Ram, slave-owner Ravana, emperor Ashok, emperor Akbar are widely disseminated and propagated, whereas things about slaves and serfs are available in small fragments after a great search. The market system speaks of equality but in fact embodies the height of hierarchic social systems. The market system that has reached the faceless stage today in the form of companies and institutions which has produced an obsession for the desire for faces. The basic tenet has become - "Show that you've achieved something remarkable." The almost universal desire to become leader-actress-player-artist-officer-director-chief carries with it the torture of each body and soul by oneself. The repetition of media-propagated special persons' expressions-looks-lifestyles on our part has become a part of our daily activities. Thinking, discussing humanness instead of the 'value' of human beings will help us recognize these incessant wounds. Efforts to break from the deceit of images are a step on the path of humane behavior.

Making the future

Who doesn't know that competition in the market is endless? Who doesn't know that prices in the market keep changing? Who doesn't know that insecurity is the life-activity of the market?

Superficial, for-show, momentary and instrumental relations are in the character of the market. Is it right to call attempts to build such relations as 'making the future'?

Come, let's begin children.

"Good" schools, costly education, tutoring after school- all these efforts are to increase the price of the child in the market. To hold back on one's own meals and to make the situation of children worse is justified in the name of making children's future. Be it only for the sake of children, isn't it necessary to rethink all this? Instead of crying over compulsions, it seems necessary to raise questions regarding school as such. This is part of questioning the market..For natural, normal relations among generations and for the upbringing of community society....For this necessity, practice is knocking at our doors. So think, reflect, discuss it because we are all getting roasted in this oven.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


There are many Iraqs.
There are many Americas.
There are many Indias.
There are many Faridabads.
Where are you-I?

(New Series No. 178, April 2003)

In northern Africa, there are the country-State-governments of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. The armed struggle challenging the government of France's occupation and attempt to form a new government had made Algeria hot news in the 1960's. Like Turkey and Indonesia, Algeria consists of a vast majority of Muslims but in 1964 a secular state was established there. Soon after, public discontent started getting out of the control of the new government. During the elections the secular party lost to the religious party, the latter cancelled the elections and continued its stay in power behind the military. The religious party started an armed struggle for power. During these ten years, the secular and religious gangs were involved in bloodshed for power and only when hundreds were slaughtered did it become news. Beyond the bloodshed taking place to save the secular government and to establish an Islamic government, many other occurrences were taking place but the propaganda apparatus kept aloof from discussing them.

In a little magazine called Willful Disobedience, there is a brief description of a people's uprising that has been going on for 2 years in Algeria. Contending and overcoming old and new obstacles, public activities seem to be creating fissures in the present social system. Rejecting dead-end paths and searching for new ways, people's activities seem to be providing constructive material for alternatives, for creating a new society. Come, let us establish a dialogue with our friends in Algeria for an outline of the next stage of our present daily routine life.

* 70 kms. away from the capital Algiers in the Kabylia region of Algeria. On April 18,2001, police killed a student in Benidola in Tiziozi area. There was opposition. It spread. Outbursts of anger took place. People attacked police stations and military detachments. People attacked with simple tactics like throwing stones, glass-bottles, and lighted glass bottles with one-fourth petrol, burning down police vehicles, police stations, courts. Collective anger spread and every type of gov't office and political party office was attacked. People's rebellion, revolt, uprising, insurgency spread to the whole of Kabylia region and millions of people joined it.

* At the beginning of May 2001, the people's upsurge started efforts to organize itself. It came face to face with the problems of committees, assemblies, councils, affinities, and coordination between all of them. Means necessary for coordination and people who became the means had the danger of becoming or being made into delegates-representatives-leaders. But there were also processes occurring of dealing with these dangers.

* The government of Algeria was unsuccessful in crushing the people's upsurge. By mid-June 2001, government control in Kabylia region was almost completely done away with. To stop, contain, cash in on the people's upsurge, the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) offered support to the military president to bring about democratic change.

* Boycott of police by the people- people refused to sell food or give and food and other materials to the police. The government was forced to use helicopters and convoys of trucks through heavily armed detachments to supply goods to its other detachments in Kabylia region.

* Opportunists infiltrated the people's upsurge and attempted to manipulate in their own interests. At the end of June 2001, the coordination committee of people's groups refused to meet the representatives of the government. In the middle of July 2001, the coordination of Tiziozi drafted an oath of honor, respect, commitment to be taken by those people becoming means for coordination parts of which are:

-- not to be involved in any activities or acts whose aim is to make direct or indirect links with State power and its touts
-- not to use the people's upsurge in the interest for factional interests
-- not to use it for electoral competition or any other process for capturing power
-- not to accept any political appointment in institutions of power

* The attempts of leftists and unions to infiltrate the people's uprising and abduct it for their interests was defeated by the people. During the mass strike in Kabylia on July 26th, 2001, "Throw out the traitors! Throw out the unions!" slogans were in wide circulation and discussion.

* Government officials secretly contracted with such people who supported the idea of compromise with government. At this in mid-August, people threw out all government officials from Soumma Valley (a region in Kabylia). Soon after, all government officials from the whole of Kabylia region were forced out by the people. Mujahideen Minister had to cancel his tour of Tiziozo and the Home Minister was greeted by showers of stones when he came to install the new governor.

* At the beginning of October 2001, the government banned the demonstration being organized to give a charter to the President demanding the release of prisoners, withdrawal of cases, and recalling of police. The government used anti-insurgency armed bans in large numbers to disperse the demonstrators. On October 11, 2001, the coordination-arch and other self-organized meetings and committees, inter-regional coordination decided that no charter demand will be given to any government representative.

* It was also decided that the issue was beyond completely beyond negotiations and anyone who would accept to talk or discuss with the government would be boycotted.

* People stopped paying their taxes and bills. People refused compulsory service in the army.

* On December 6, 2001, people who claimed to be representatives or delegates of the coordination planned to meet the head of the government. The whole of Kabylia region was shut down in protest. People surrounded police barracks and there were violent confrontations. In Amizor, offices of the gas company, tax department, and Mujahideen national organization were burned down. In Elqesaeur, the court and the judge's houses were attacked.

* Roads were obstructed. On February 7, 2002 outside the United Nations office in the capital, people were arrested. People had quarantined the police in barracks. When the police again came onto the roads, there was a mass strike in all of Kabylia. At different places, people assembled in front of police barracks and confrontations with police took place at different places.

* At the end of February 2002, the president declared elections for May 30. In response, the people captured ballot boxes and administrative documents and burnt them. To appease the people, the President withdrew police from two different cities and offered to negotiate.

* At the people's no-compromise assertion, the government again began making large-scale arrests. On March 25, 2002, government forces attacked that theater in Tiziozo which was being used as an office for the coordination. The government issued arrest warrants against 400 'representatives' of the coordination-arch.

* Increasing oppression was met by increasing opposition. On May 20, 2002, when the President went to Algiers University, then the students demanding the release of prisoners greeted the President by showering him with stones. The next day the students took over the University.\

* In May 30, 2002, less than 2% polling took place in Kabylia region. People put up barricades in streets, on roads. Municipalities, government building, election offices were taken over. And burnt ballot boxes were littered on the roads.

* To derail the people's upsurge on June 19, 2002 with the mediation of two representatives, the government prepared a proposal and permitted prisoners to meet and discuss it. People at large rejected 'representatives'. The prisoners refused to accept a proposal that contained their conditions of release for reaching a compromise with the government. With the people's upsurge continuing in August 2002, the government of Algeria released the prisoners and declared to hold elections in October 2002. Again confrontations of people with the police took place in different places. Despite the participation of Socialist Forces Front (SFS), merely 10% voting took place in Kabylia in place.

* The gov't could not have its way despite a second election within a year. In the last week of October 2002, the government again began a major attack on the people. Government armed bands are raiding those places where people hold meetings and coordination groups meet. Arrests and torture occurred. Prisoners went on hunger strikes.

* From amongst the people and from the government side, hundreds have been killed and thousands injured. Despite this, people's uprising in Kabylia region has not come to a halt. For two years continuously, this people's upsurge has not allowed itself to be hijacked. Therefore, the propaganda apparatus is keeping mum about it. But it is necessary for ordinary people to discuss this people's upsurge. New language, new words, new idioms, new meanings seem necessary. And the continuing world-wide churning is making these indispensable.

In this people's upsurge there is no leader, there is no party, there is no charismatic spokesperson. Behind this people's upsurge, there is no letter-like hierarchic organization. There is no pyramid-like organization. Instead of being controlled and directed from above, this people's surge has attempted to organize itself. Opposite to top-down or bottom-up those who are at the bottom and have attempted a wider coordination by keeping those who are like them as themselves. As necessary means of coordination, people have been decided upon but they have not been given the rights of representation, delegation, leadership. It is not that everyone is alike or that everyone is equal rather...rather it has been that they are not unequal. Therefore, for two years, this people's upsurge has continued and parties, unions, politicians are other opportunist elements have not been able to hijack it, exploit it.

Government-power seeks, creates mediums-middle persons. Compromise means the present itself! Attempt after attempt to engender, become a representative, delegate, leader.

People surrounding confronting the armed bands of the government had placards in their hands in which was written "You cannot murder us, we are already corpses."

This people's upsurge is against all those in power, all those contending for power, all those anxious for power.